The trials and tribulations of communal bathrooms

There are many things that new college students must adjust to when they move into dorms. A lot of first-years have never even had to share a room before, which can prove to be a very challenging experience to adapt to. I, however, shared a room with my twin brother until the age of 15––a room which he treated like his own personal trash can. Thus, sharing a room was not a difficult task for me. When I was placed in a triple dorm my first year, I was ecstatic. I like sharing a room, and it turned out to be A LOT of fun. So whenever a first-year starts whining that they are not in a single, I can’t help but scoff just a little. If I shared a room for the majority of my life, you can do it for a year. That being said, the bathrooms, however, that is a situation I am very sympathetic toward. 

Remember how I said I shared a room with my brother and it was a hellish mess? Multiply that by 10 and you can begin to understand the situation that is the dorm bathrooms. When first-year Carly walked into the Main fourth floor bathroom for the first time, it was not pleasant, to say the very least. What could have caused this distress? Was it the broken shower curtain that made it impossible to clean yourself without giving the hall a show? Yes. Was it the stained sinks that smelled a little “funny” whenever you turned them on? Also yes. Who knows, maybe it was the two gigantic cockroaches that seemed to have a permanent little cockroach condo in the second bathroom stall; I’m just spitballing here. These conditions were not ideal, but they were manageable. What was not manageable was having to strategically plan out the times to brush my teeth in private. I know this might sound like a mundane issue for some, but allow me to explain. The most stressful part of my day is when I step into the bathroom to brush my teeth after a long day only to find someone already there. This is where my troubles begin. Do I give a polite nod of acknowledgment? Do I mumble a hello? Or do I completely ignore them as they will most likely do the same for me??? Who’s to say. 

But our dilemmas do not end there. Putting toothpaste on a toothbrush in front of another living human being is the single most stressful experience I have had at Vassar College. Maybe it’s just my overly neurotic brain, but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t question my toothpaste etiquette. If I put on too little, they will think I’m unclean and lazy. If I put on too much? Now I’m that girl who uses a lot of toothpaste. 

Then comes the worst part: the competition of who can brush their teeth the longest. Even though no one has explicitly said to me that this is what they are thinking about when simultaneously brushing their teeth with another person, I can tell what they are thinking. The silent timer in my head tells me that we need to brush until someone gives up, and that someone ain’t gonna be me. 

In the end, sharing a college bathroom is not for the faint of heart. The awkward interactions that I experienced with my hallmates during my first year are enough to last a lifetime. Yet, whether it is toothbrush battles or minor health violations, you can get one hell of a story out of it. 

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